Friday, April 2, 2010

Transparency and Authenticity

Jaume Plensa Transparency
Originally uploaded by Arenamontanus

Some firms and organizations insist they are have an unprecedented brand name and reputation—one they can maintain without social media. The new caution today, though, is that transparency of organizations is no longer totally up to the organizations, and the brand can be easily tarnished.

There is a greater push, demand, and expectation that individuals' and organizations' actions must be true to their values and their communications. Organizations must do their homework, know facts, and know how communications, associations, and actions affect their reputations. Because if they don't, someone else will bring forced transparency to the organization.

Online environments, rapid fire and viral communications, will make it harder to keep brand images, if organizations are not true in their actions. Everyone throughout organizations, including customer services, operations, sales, marketing, public relations, decision-makers, and research and development, must understand and portray the same image that is marketed and is perceived.  Flip that thought on its head: what is marketed must portray the values and operations of the organization. 

Organizations, large and small, must understand how loyalty can be lost when their own actions do not portray their marketed images or do not serve customers’ needs.

All organizations—non-for-profit, advocacy, educational, corporate, and entrepreneurs—have to be really good at what they do. They have to serve their organizations’ purposes and customers’ and communities’ changing needs.

Additionally, organizations must be able to:

  • know they have no control of what other people say and understand the power—negative and positive—of others.
  • match actions and operations with image, mottos, slogans, advertisements, and social media efforts.
  • know facts about their own organizations, competitive organizations, and respective industries.
  • accept that conflicts will happen, but demonstrate understanding and adjust, if necessary, but staying true to the values of the organization.
  • admit mistakes.
  • be responsive.
  • adjust and realign processes and operations for needed changes.
  • communicate processes and operations that change based on demands.

As customers, potential customers, and competitors observe behaviors and experience services that are contrary to the organizations’ images, through online communications—with viral potential—they share their experiences and observations. This means that organizations can no longer hide their weaknesses. Transparency, or lack of, is no longer up to organizations to decide.

Transparency and authenticity should not only be discussed in online environments, but also considered in the way organizations conduct business. There is no hiding.


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